By Joey Roulette
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. billionaire Jeff Bezos said on Tuesday his space company Blue Origin has signed agreements with Lockheed Martin Corp <LMT.N>, Northrop Grumman Corp <NOC.N> and research and development organisation Draper for development of its lunar lander designed to help NASA put humans on the moon by 2024.Blue Origin’s so-called Blue Moon lunar lander, unveiled by Bezos in May, is in development and sits at the centre of the space company’s ambition to ferry humans into deep space and land key contracts from the U.S. space agency for space exploration.
“I’m excited to announce that we put together a national team to go back to the moon,” Bezos, founder and CEO of online retail giant Amazon <AMZN.O>, said at the International Astronautical Congress.
The four companies, with Blue Origin as the lead contractor, plan to submit a proposal for the lander to NASA under its Artemis lunar programme, an accelerated mission to the moon kickstarted in March by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.
Bezos called the partnerships a “national team” whose history in space exploration fits the Blue Moon’s mission. Lockheed is separately developing the moon-bound astronaut capsule named Orion. Northrop helped NASA build the Apollo lunar landers in the 1960s. Draper, a not-for-profit research and development organisation, built NASA’s navigation computers for Apollo lunar landers.
(Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Sandra Maler)